The HBCU football season rolls into its third week continuing to produce interesting matchups that deserve the attention of fans alike.
Most notably, in the CIAA, teams begin their road to championship contention, as this will be the first week of all in-conference games.
Elsewhere, a number of teams will be making their conference debuts, and we see a rematch of what was a game of the year contender last season.
Here are the five games to watch in week three of the HBCU football season.
1. Grambling State at Jackson State
In their first home game of the season, the Jackson State Tigers put their unbeaten record on the line when they welcome Hue Jackson and the Grambling State Tigers.
This is the first time these two teams will face each other since Jackson State beat Grambling 33-28 in the 2021 spring season.
Both teams enter this matchup coming off non-conference wins. Jackson State defeated Tennessee State in the Southern Heritage while Grambling State defeated Northwestern State 47-21 in Shreveport, La.
Despite the fact that Grambling and Jackson State are both members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Saturday’s contest will not count in the conference standings. It will officially count as a non-conference matchup.
GSU’s offense will have its hands full against a defense that has allowed just six points in its first two outings. Meanwhile, this is the first time Grambling’s defense has faced JSU’s high-powered offense led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders.
2. Texas Southern at Southern
The SWAC West favorite Southern Jaguars look to kick off their conference schedule with a bang when they host the Tigers of Texas Southern.
Not only is this Southern’s SWAC season debut, this is also the Jags first game against an FCS opponent after playing Florida Memorial in their opener and against LSU on the road last week.
Although Texas Southern has not gotten in the win column, the Tigers got great output from its offense in TSU’s previous game against North Texas, recording 458 yards of total offense.
Quarterback Andrew Body shined throwing for 239 passing yards on 19-of-29 passing scoring a touchdown while adding 45 rushing yards.
Body will have his hands full with a loaded Southern defense. He will have to contend with top pass rushers Jordan Lewis and Jason Dumas and a secondary that recorded two interceptions against LSU including one that was returned 94 yards for a touchdown.
3. Hampton at Norfolk State
In a rematch of their classic meeting from last season, fierce rivals Hampton and Norfolk State face off in the Battle of the Bay.
Last year, these two played in an overtime thriller that ended with the Spartans coming away with a 47-44 road victory. There were over 1000 yards of total offense gained in the game with each team combining for 11 offensive touchdowns.
Both teams come into this outing with different quarterbacks (Juwan Carter and Jett Duffey) who accounted for nine of the 11 total touchdowns in the game. Despite this, there is still a number of playmakers that fans should watch for on both sides.
These include Hampton wide receivers Jadakis Bonds and Romon Copeland along with running backs Darran Butts and Elijah. The Spartans, on the other hand, will trot out linebacker Marquis Hall as well as defensive backs Brandon Savage and R.J. Coles.
4. Bowie State at Shaw
The reigning CIAA champion Bowie State Bulldogs make their conference debut when they go on the road to face the Shaw Bears.
Bowie State is currently on an 18-game conference win streak (not including their three CIAA championship wins). However, Shaw came very close to ending that streak in their last encounter in which the Bulldogs won 26-21.
In a week two matchup in the 2019 season, Shaw led 21-12 on their home field with three minutes remaining in the game.
Bowie State scored on a blocked punt return to make it a one-score game then secured the win following a five-yard passing touchdown with 18 seconds left to secure the win.
Shaw will look to put an end to the Bulldogs’ long win streak while also securing its first win of the season in the process.
5. Livingstone at Virginia Union
Coming off a historic win over the Valdosta State Blazers, the Virginia Union Panthers look to keep their momentum rolling as they open up their CIAA schedule against the Livingstone Blue Bears.
All eyes will be on Panthers running back Jada Byers who played a huge role in his team’s win last weekend. Byers set a CIAA record against the Blazers rushing for 319 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
It is not guaranteed, however, that he will have a similar performance in this game, as he is facing a Livingstone team that is coming off a solid outing against the Elizabeth City State Vikings.
The Blue Bears blanked the Vikings 19-0 with the defense shining forcing four turnovers including three fumbles. If they are able to have a similar defensive output in this matchup with the Panthers, this could make for an entertaining, competitive game.
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